America’s Coming Infrastructure Crisis? A Rebuttal

Thomas R. Kuhn, president of Edison Electric Institute, responds to Newsweek.

America’s Coming Infrastructure Crisis” by David Cay Johnston, published in the Sept. 10 issue of Newsweek, is so full of gross distortions that it demands immediate attention.

One especially misleading statement made by the author is that “many utility rates have risen much faster than inflation.” Although American homes use more electricity today than ever, the portion of household budgets dedicated to electricity bills has actually declined. In fact, the national growth rate for electricity prices is significantly lower than other consumer goods such as gasoline, health care, housing, food, and transportation.

Additionally, the author fails to mention that the nation’s electric power industry is spending approximately $80 billion per year on infrastructure—roughly twice the amount we spent in 2004—to keep pace with the ever increasing number of electric appliances and gadgets that Americans are plugging in. These investment dollars are also a key source of high-quality, American jobs.

America’s utilities are also building a smarter grid by merging telecommunications and information technology. A modern grid, besides being more resilient and reliable, will open the door to more energy-saving options for homes and businesses, and it will enable electric transportation to become one of the most important and potentially most transformative technologies of the 21st century.

America’s utilities recognize the many challenges before us. We are confident, however, that our strong, industry-wide engagement will continue ensuring that the electric power industry’s future will be cleaner, safer, smarter, and more efficient than ever.